54ff4bfbc3620.imageWhen Jeff Moose came across an article highlighting the number of homeless children in the United States, he knew he wanted to do something.

What that was, exactly, Moose didn’t know.

As an unemployed man, he had no money to give. But “what I do have is time,” he said.

Moose said taking action on that article wasn’t something he did immediately. He kicked around ideas for years, but something brought it back to the forefront a few months ago. He saw a homeless couple at an area store and noticed the woman was about ready to give birth.

“That just got to me. That was going to be another homeless child. No matter what the circumstances, that child had nothing to do with it,” he said. “It wouldn’t let go of my heart.”

Another article — about a man walking from California to New York to raise money for a cause — gave him an idea.

“I can’t do that,” he said about walking across the country, but “what I can do is walk across North Carolina.”

And with that, he said, the WHY (Walk for Homeless Youth) Project was born.

With a firm idea in mind, Moose, who lives in Taylorsville, said he went looking for an organization that dealt with homeless youth. He settled on A Child’s Place in Charlotte. A visit to the organization convinced him he’d chosen the right place, Moose said.

“I was really impressed with them,” said Moose, who added that the organization uses about 85 percent of its donated funds for its cause. “It’s not a shelter,” he said. “They are working to break the cycle.”

With an idea in mind and a place for the money to go, Moose said, he next set about the logistics of a more than 500-mile walk from Manteo to Murphy. A veteran backpacker and camper, he said, he planned to camp as much as possible but knew he’d need food and other supplies along the route.

He started with the Food Lion in Taylorsville. He told management about the WHY Project and walked out with a $25 gift card. That inspired him to contact several Food Lion stores along the route and soon received the promise of $450 in gift cards at stores across the state.

Then he needed to look for places to pitch his tent. He checked with campgrounds, state parks and bed and breakfasts along with the route. To his surprise, soon that part of the trip was taken care of as well. “All 50 nights have been donated,” he said.

Soon other donations, such as walking shoes, clothing, his camp stove and other necessities, including places to sleep indoors, poured in.

The Kerr House Bed and Breakfast and the Food Lion on Davie Avenue in Statesville offered help, Moose said.

His niece provided him with a way to keep in touch and to let others know about the trip via his Facebook page. She gave him her old smart phone and a cell carrier stepped in and donated a data plan.

With lodging and meals taken care of, Moose said, he can concentrate on spreading word about his mission. He hopes he can talk about the WHY Project with people he meets along the way and he hopes they will be led to donate to the cause.

Donations can be made via the WHY Project’s Facebook page or by visiting A Child’s Place website at www.achildsplace.org.

Moose plans to depart on his journey in Manteo on Easter Sunday, April 5, and conclude in Murphy on May 28. He will make an overnight stop in Statesville around May 4.

Moose said he hopes to walk about 17 miles a day, something he’s been training to do for a few weeks.

“I’m prepared for this walk,” he said.

By Donna Swicegood
Statesville Record & Landmark
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